Many people perceive anime and manga to be childish aspects of Japanese culture and that they are only for children to watch. However for all anime fans out there you will be aware that it is not the case, some anime in fact possibly should not be watched by children. Like any medium anime or manga can also be used to make us think about wider issues in society or in our history. These anime are usually very evocative and really can make you think, or in some cases, cry.
Wolf Children was released in 2012 and released in the UK in October 2013. The story revolves around a young woman, Hana, who meets and falls in love with a mysterious man she saw in her University classes. Directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Wolf Children won a number of awards including the Japan Academy Prize for Animation and the Mainichi Film Award for Best Animation. Awards were also won overseas, with prices gained from both Norway and America. The animation style itself has received wide acclaim from critics, but this is not all that is brilliant about this film. In following the life of Hana, the mystery man and their life you can a sense of being a part of their world, of being in Japan and the battle to save our natural world. Wolf Children is an incredible animation with an incredible story, get your tissues ready as this film is truly heart wrenching.
She, The Ultimate Weapon is an animated series produced by Shin Takahashi based on the manga, which was aired through 2002 with 13 episodes. Although this series did not win any awards it was very popular and an OVA was written along with a film to continue and enrich the original story. The anime focuses on the relationship between Shuji and his high school classmate Chise set on the island of Hokkaido. War breaks out and their city is bombed, while running through the rubble Shuji discovers Chise with metal wings grafted to her body. Against her will or knowledge Chise has been turned in the “Ultimate Weapon” by the Japan Self-Defense Force. The story is experienced through flashbacks when Shuji reads her diary and follows Chise’s dwindling humanity as she is more and more taken over by the cells of the weapons within her. The true message of this tale is how love makes us human, and whether or not love is enough to save us from ourselves. This anime challenges the concepts of war, of technology and of the destruction of life for the “greater good”. This will make you consider a lot of things, and it certainly made me cry at times.
Grave of the Fireflies is an animated film released in 1988 by Studio Ghibli. The story is based on a semi-autobiography written by Akiyuki Nosaka in 1967 and is about the struggle for people to survive in Japan World War 2 in Kobe. Most of the films and books associated with WW2, especially in the UK, do not even touch on the suffering or struggle of the ordinary Japanese people during their involvement in the war. Seeing a story of suffering from an untold perspective gives a lot to think about and is truly harrowing. The story follows two young siblings, Seita and Setsuko during the bombing of the final months of WW2 where they lose their mother, their town and their almost their hope. The film portrays Seita’s struggle to provide and care for his little sister once their only living family becomes to resentful to care for them. In all honesty, this film is truly a harrowing portrayal of the unfairness of war and how it destroys the lives of those too young to participate or even understand.
If you watch these three anime you will surely see that it is not for children and that this evocative medium can express some complicated themes and really touch your emotions.